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Protected Areas

Natural Monuments

Natural monuments were established to protect both the unique and the more common natural sites of academic, historic or cultural importance (following the passage of a law on protected areas in 1991). Such sites are protected from disturbance, to avoid losses of small areas of high international importance and aesthetic value. Each site is considered independently and an appropriate agency is responsible for its protection. Some monuments include living trees, such as the wide-leaf pines around Tsaghkavan and the ancient walnuts in Shamb (Zangezur province), the "King's" oak (35m height, 1,7m diameter), and the Judas tree.

Other natural monuments include volcanic formations, mountain lakes, mineral springs, and waterfalls. But the real hidden attractions are the caves, numbering over 10.000 in Armenia. Parts of the Bear's cave in the Vayots Dzor province that has been studied was found to have the length of 3,3km on 7 levels and to contain lakes, stalactite/stalagmite halls and labyrinths. The smaller nearby cave of Magili was inhabited since Neolithic times. In it rich archaeological material can be discovered. That natural monuments of world significance need improvement and preparation to be opened to tourists, while almost all other caves can be visited freely.

The most famous among the natural attractions in the Republic is the "Devil's bridge" in the Vorotan River canyon. Here fallen rocks created a monolith construction that measures 15m long and 10m high, ornamented by stalactites and interlaced branches of bushes. An adjacent warm mineral water spring also attracts many visitors.

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  © Armenian Ecotourism Association
Eco-Agrotourism in South Caucasus, 2002